Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers Who Turned the Tide in the Second World War

Paul Kennedy. Random, $30 (464p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6761-9
Kennedy takes a fresh and stimulating approach to the history of WWII in his latest, wherein he focuses on the war’s middle years and its middle level: the implementation of strategies, doctrines, and policies as devised by Churchill and FDR in Casablanca in January 1943 and carried out into 1944. Before the North African conference, the Anglo-American alliance had not mounted decisive operations against the Axis powers. Five operational obstacles were in the way: “get[ting] convoys safely across the Atlantic,” “win[ning] command of the air, “stop[ping] the Nazi blitzkrieg,” securing and developing a European beachhead, and defeating Japan quickly and economically. In as many chapters, Kennedy (The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers) demonstrates how, over the course of 18 months, the U.K. and the U.S. developed and implemented a system for addressing these problems pragmatically and focused on incremental progress. This process worked through a “culture of encouragement” based on “feedback loops” connecting all levels of planning and execution among the Allies, while allowing freedom to experiment, explore ideas, and cross institutional boundaries. Thus were intentions transformed to realities; thus was the tide of war turned. B&w photos, maps. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/08/2012
Release date: 01/29/2013
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